Steadman Upham was re-named president of The University of Tulsa in October 2012, after having served for eight years in his first tenure as Tulsa president, preceding six years as president of Claremont Graduate University. Prior to this time, he was vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School and professor of archaeology at the University of Oregon.
On April 12, 2011, Upham announced his intention to retire as president of The University of Tulsa effective June 30, 2012. Upham planned to serve as President Emeritus and professor at the university. He was replaced by Geoffrey Orsak, former dean of the Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University.
Upon Orsak's dismissal from Tulsa after 74 days in office, Upham returned to serve again as president.
Steadman Upham joined The University of Tulsa as president in 2004. His administration has been highlighted by strengthening academic quality of students and faculty, maintaining strong enrollment, and facilities expansion.
Prior to coming to TU, Upham served as president and chief executive officer of Claremont Graduate University, a doctoral research university and a member of the Oxford-style consortium known as The Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California. Upham received his Ph.D. degree in anthropology in 1980 from Arizona State University. In 1981, he joined New Mexico State University where he held the positions of chief archaeologist and assistant professor of archaeology. He achieved the rank of tenured professor of archaeology in 1989. Before leaving New Mexico State in 1990, he also served as the faculty affiliate, Center for Social Research (1985 – 1990); curator of Archaeology, University Museum (1984 – 1990); and associate dean of the Graduate School (1987 – 1990).
From 1990 to 1998, Upham worked at the University of Oregon as vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School and professor of anthropology. At Oregon, Upham was responsible for management of the university’s 21 research centers and institutes as well as The River Front Research Park. He also served as the university’s chief administrator for graduate education.
Upham is a widely published archaeologist, having written or edited 10 books and more than 75 book chapters and journal articles. He has lectured extensively in the United States and Canada. While at TU, he has held a concurrent appointment as professor in the Department of Anthropology.
In 2001, Upham received the Academy Gold Medal of Honor by the Academy of Transdisciplinary Learning and Advance Studies. He was named to the Graduate College Hall of Fame by Arizona State University and named an ASU Distinguished Alumnus in 1998. The University of Oregon presented Upham its Martin Luther King, Jr. Award and Director’s Award for Service and Achievement, both in 1998. Early in his academic career, Upham’s teaching skills were recognized by New Mexico State University, which presented him the Donald C. Roush Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1987, and a year later named him a Master Teacher.
Upham’s professional service includes serving as commissioner of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges; chairman of the Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools; president of the National Physical Science Consortium; director of The American Mutual Funds; director of the St. Francis Health System; director of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce; director of the American Council on Education; director of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); and member of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education National Board.
Affectionately referred to as "Uncle Stead" by many University of Tulsa students Upham became a fixture on the campus. Upham is a popular figure at Tulsa and can frequently be seen riding a golf cart on campus. Students dining in the campus cafeteria often call their meal plan credits "Stead bucks."
Upham was called back to the presidency by the TU Board of Trustees on October 1, 2012. He will serve for at least two years, and has the distinction of being The University of Tulsa's 17th and 19th presidents.